By  on March 5, 2009

One day while in Spain, Stephanie Oster thought she was experiencing indigestion. “It became excruciatingly painful,” said Oster, who was 39 at the time. She actually suffered a heart attack. Four years later, she suffered another one. “In my mind it was a freak occurrence, but it wasn’t. I had heart disease,” she said.

Oster told her tale at a Macy’s-sponsored luncheon Friday at the Waldorf-Astoria, which raised $800,000 for the “Go Red” campaign to fight heart disease.

The event featured a performance by the Total Praise Ensemble of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and culminated with moving testimonials from a dozen women who have battled heart disease.

In addition to Macy’s Inc., sponsors included Merck & Co. Inc., WNBC, Telemundo Communications Group Inc., Shering-Plough, Geoffrey Beene and Jones Apparel Group Inc. Macy’s has raised awareness and funds — over $19 million since first getting involved in 2004 — through promotions, events and special merchandise. “Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. No one knows this,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice president of Macy’s corporate marketing.

The two founders of the luncheon — Jane Chesnutt, editor in chief of Woman’s Day, and Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Women’s Heart Program — received the “Women with Heart” awards. Other speakers were Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director for Macy’s, among the event co-chairs with Reardon; Hoda Kotb, co-anchor of the Fourth Hour of the “Today” show, and Darlene Rodriguez, co-anchor of the “Today” show.

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